Australian Morchella Species – new article / updated

As you may be aware there are few mushroom genus more highly prized than the Morel / Morchella. Chefs and cooks alike rate them as highly as the lofty porcini/ceps, chanterelles and black trumpets. In fact there is a huge trade in wild-picked morels in the United States and massive efforts in China and elsewhere to cultivate various morel species.

This is a new post on Australian morel species because our previous had some errors and progress has been recently made on a number of aussie species.

Morchella rufobrunnea – Garden bed Morel

One of the more common morel species in Australia regularly appears in newly-laid pine bark mulch on garden beds. Its more common in Western Australia but has appeared in SA, Victoria (Frankston, Cranbourne and Belgrave) and possibly elsewhere. It is a large, white morel species that stains red where bruised or cut. It it generally however almost tasteless here. One collection was recently sequenced and on BLAST appeared to be 3% away from rufobrunnea sequences so this ID may require further investigation.

In any case if its morel flavour you are seeking this species almost has none.

Morchella australiana – Granite Country Black Morel

One of the more common morel species in Victoria and New South Wales and a species that is being collected for the market and sold in significant numbers is this black morel species which BLAST puts as 99%-100% australiana depending on specimen which is about 2-3% away from elata which is the typical black morel type species.

It is found in granite country where wild orchids grow more frequently above the great divide although we have now found significant numbers quite close to Melbourne – both west and east of the suburbs.

Ive never personally found them to be super flavoursome but people I know say they can be. Very prizes and sort after. Quite a pretty species ranging from very black to tanish grey brown.

We intended on selling these but one customer requested a massive amount to onsell so strong is the demand.

Morchella eximia – the Fire Morel

These are – or at least were – highly prized morels that generally fruit in native forest including Messmate and Manna Gum forest within the first 12 months of a fire. Occuring in WA, SA and Vic on mass after the unfortunate event of Black Saturday.

DNA extraction and sequencing run through BLAST suggested these were sitting at 100% (1) and 99% (2) Morchella eximia type vouchers on GenBank.

Many people I have spoken to have described them as potently flavoursome morels with good strong smokey, earthy morel flavours. However recently some friends have tried them and said they were rather bland. One even report a mild stomach upset. Ive never personally found these distinct, sharp, orangish morels so I cannot personally comment.

Photos below courtesy of our friend Jay Pee:

Black Morel in Landscape Garden

As per our recent post, this is the distinct and very large meaty black morel that someone reported to us as growing in a random suburban setting on a newly laid mulch bed. There were probably hundreds at the location and it was quite amazing. These were the biggest morels I have seen with very frequent craters and a ladder formation on their sides. Also they kind of fold in where the bone stipe meets the cap craters.

We are awaiting DNA results on this species but clones were attempted and more importantly it tasted very smokey and nice – how Id presume US morels would taste.

Other Morel species

As with all things there are probably numerous other secrets out there that we are unaware of – other undescribed morels. Jonas Bellchambers recently posted about a petite white morel species that DNA sequencing put in a tree somewhere out from esculenta which is a highly prized white morel species from the United States.

Well worth keeping your eyes pealed!

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